Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, and Support
Suboxone® is the trade name of a drug that is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is an opioid used to help those dealing with opioid withdrawal symptoms, and naloxone blocks the effects of opioids in the brain. Together, they can help prevent relapse in those trying to recovery from opiate addiction.
Suboxone thus works twofold: by easing the symptoms of withdrawal from opioids such as painkillers and heroin, and by preventing the person from achieving a high if they do ingest opioids. Approved in 2006, Suboxone is a commonly used medication in Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).
A controversial subject in the addiction treatment world, Suboxone may increase outcomes for those going through opioid withdrawal. A study back in 2008 found substantially better outcomes among Suboxone users than non-MAT models.
The downside is that coming off naloxone and buprenorphine brings some withdrawal symptoms which can be difficult. As an opioid, suboxone may cause severely uncomfortable withdrawals, although it’s generally agreed that the symptoms are less severe than going cold turkey.
Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms of Suboxone are similar to the symptoms of withdrawal of any other opioid. Generally, a doctor will wean the patient slowly off the drug in order to minimize discomfort. Quitting cold turkey can cause more severe withdrawal symptoms.
Common Suboxone withdrawal symptoms include:
- Nausea & vomiting
- Cravings for opioids or other drugs
- Fever, chills, and irregular body temperature changes
- Sore and aching muscles
- Headaches or migraines
- Difficulty focusing
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Depression or lack of motivation
- Anger or irritability
- Irregular sleep patterns
Symptoms are largely dependent upon the individual’s body chemistry, the dose they are taking, and for how long they have been taking Suboxone. If you come off Suboxone slowly with the help of medical professionals, you are likely to experience less severe withdrawal symptoms.
As with other opioids, withdrawal symptoms peak around 3-4 days. Because buprenorphine can leave the body slowly, symptoms may continue for weeks or months after cessation. The Suboxone withdrawal timeline depends on many factors including how long you’ve been taking it, how long you were using opioids before taking Suboxone, and if you wean off it slowly or not.
0 – 72 Hours
During this initial period of coming off Suboxone, you’re likely to experience the worst of the physical discomfort. People generally experience some level of aches and pains, fever and sweating, and headaches.
3 – 7 Days
After about 72 hours, the physical discomfort generally peaks. Aches and pains will remain, but will slowly subside. You may also experience insomnia, drowsiness, or nausea during this time. This is also when cravings to use may be at their strongest.
1 – 2 Weeks
After a week, the physical symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal have dissipated substantially. You may still experience trouble sleeping, irregular body temperature, and an increased level of hunger. It’s also common for individuals to begin feeling a lack of motivation during this period.
2 – 6 Weeks
In the coming weeks, an individual may continue to experience irregular sleeping patterns, irritability, and some anxiety. This is due to the mind learning to live without opioids present.
If you’ve made it six weeks without opioids, most withdrawal symptoms have likely disappeared. However, many individuals experience depression after quitting opiates, as opioids cause a phenomenon known as dopamine depletion in the brain. This means your brain is learning to produce and respond to dopamine again, and it can be difficult to experience pleasure. With time, the brain can recover!
Help with Suboxone Detox
If you’re coming off Suboxone, it’s important to seek professional help. By working with a trained doctor, you can minimize the discomfort of detox. Withdrawal will be much easier if you wean off the medication, and professional help will make sure you do that in a safe manner.
Suboxone withdrawal also goes much more smoothly with therapeutic and social support. It’s best to come off it with the support of a sober living or treatment center. Many other individuals will be going through a similar experience, so you don’t have to feel alone in your discomfort. Trained clinical staff is present to support you through the process and help you find a lasting recovery.